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5 Questions to Ask a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

By Molly Zilli, Esq. | Last updated on

There are a lot of ways discrimination can occur in the workplace. If you suspect it's occurring at your job, you probably have a lot of questions about the discrimination itself and what you should do. Here are five questions to ask a workplace discrimination lawyer.

  1. Does my situation rise to the level of workplace discrimination?

Each state deals with discrimination differently, but some of the more significant federal anti-discrimination laws include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion with regard to the terms and conditions of employment.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Prohibits discrimination against certain disabled individuals and requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for them.
  • Family Medical Leave Act: Prohibits discrimination against employees who need to take time off for personal or family medical needs.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of age for workers over 40.
  1. How can I tell if my employer is discriminating against me?

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. A skilled employment lawyer will know what types of questions to ask you to get a sense of what's going on at your work, but you can be on the lookout for signs of potential discrimination. For example, if you notice a stark lack of diversity with regard to race or gender, or all of the women do one type of work, while all the men do another, these could be signs of discrimination.

  1. How do I file a workplace discrimination claim?

An attorney will probably tell you to start with your employer -- see if there's a policy in place for reporting discrimination or harassment, and then report it. Document every report and conversation regarding the discrimination. You may need it later. If your employer doesn't deal with the issue effectively, you may need to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or your state's equivalent).

  1. What do I do if an employee complains of discrimination?

If you're an employer and one of your workers complains about discrimination in the workplace, don't ignore it. You must promptly consider all reports of discrimination and harassment. And before you even receive any complaints, be sure to have a policy in place for how workplace discrimination is to be reported and handled. An attorney can help with all of that.

  1. How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?

Perhaps this should have been the first question. An attorney's fees can vary widely depending on the type and facts of the case. Some fees are charged on a contingency basis where the lawyer only gets paid if you win the case. Others bill hourly, per case, or on retainer. As a related question, you can ask an attorney how much they think your case is worth.

An experienced, local attorney will be familiar with your state's discrimination laws, as well as the federal laws that would apply to your case. Contact a lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action given the facts of your particular situation.

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